Ringer: Dawson’s Creek Meets Chinatown Equals THE BEST.
Anyone with a rudimentary understanding of how television works knows that the pilot episode cannot be the episode by which you assess the beast as whole. They are often clunky, weighed down with exposition, and so many characters must be introduced that it’s almost inevitable that this first introduction to them will be down in broad strokes. None of this is permanent damage. After this episode – which we should remember is an attempt to sell a T.V. network, actors, and an audience – shows really have a chance to settle into their bones. Every so often, a pilot comes along that manages some sort of magical alchemy – not only doing all the heavy lifting needed in a pilot, but managing to artfully give you a sense of the show as a whole, including the internal conflicts that make for the best television (IN MY OPINION.)
Last night’s premiere of Sarah Michelle Gellar’s much-hyped return to television courtesy of the CW in Ringer didn’t manage that – it did something else. I cannot remember the last time I watched a pilot unfold and thought “Wow, this is going to be super engaging.” That’s exactly the word I thought – engaging. Not good, not bad, not cheesy, not poorly written, not brilliant, not riveting – engaging. Here’s the part where I tell you there are spoilers to follow so turn back now if that’s something you’d yell at me about later.
I think a large part of my reaction comes from watching Buffy – I mean Gellar – act. Clearly I am exceptionally biased when it comes to her ability, but you guys watching a grown-up Sarah Michelle Gellar act? It’s almost…uncanny. She’s always been very talented, but it’s fascinating to watch the adolescent who so frequently was shouldering an emotional load to dwarf Atlas turn into an adult who’s seen things herself. I was all “Daaaw, Buffy! You done grown up and I love it kind of!”
Granted seconds after this I was watching her as Bridget/Siobhan get tackled and strangled and going “FIGHT HIM! USE YOUR SKILLS BUFF!” So clearly there’s going to be a learning curve.
The show’s premise unfolds thusly – Bridget, a drug and hooch addicted stripper witnesses this Mafioso dude (who looks just like the sad native America in the landfill PSA) murder and dismember this other stripper. She’s meant to testify against the Body Chopper (for so shall he be named) in exchange for her own charges – possession and prostitution – being dropped. But she chickens out, knocks out the dude guarding her, steals his gun and….goes to the Hamptons to visit her classy twin Siobhan who she has not seen in 6 years.
Once I was done giggling at SMG talking to herself, I took issue with the way in which they show decided to distinguish the twins – Siobhan wears white and keeps her hair in a bun. Bridget wears a plaid shirt? And doesn’t brush her hair? It smacked of untruths when Bridget remarks on how great Siobhan looks compared to her. I was all “Sarah Michelle Gellar. You were never a drug doing stripper and there is nothing you can do to ever convince me otherwise.”
Siobhan is then all “Let us take an ominous boat ride now that we discussed the mysterious and deceased Sean who you apparently killed somehow and I haven’t forgiven you for even though I am saying I have.” Dude, aren’t twins supposed to share some sort of psychic mind powers? That wasn’t the case here, but my non-twin powers were tingling and I was all “RUN GIRL, DON’T GET ON THAT BOAT! SIOBHAN GONNA BE LIKE THE CHRISTOPHER WALKEN TO YOUR NATALIE WOOD!”
But I am glad they did go on a boat because then I was reminded that this was the CW when we had several shots of SGM talking to herself in different outfits while some PA held a fan on her and another shook her around to make it like they were on a boat.
Siobhan gets big scary eyes and is like, “I SHALL GET US BEVERAGES AND NOT ROOFIE YOU IN ANYWAY!” and Bridget’s like “THAT SOUNDS AWESOME.” Only then you know what happens? Siobhan roofies Bridget. And when Bridget wakes up, Siobhan is gone! Her scarf if in the water! Her wedding ring on the boat! There is only one explanation right? Siobhan has offed herself.
Yeah no I didn’t buy that shit either man. I was initially quite annoyed. I was all “Man. Your sister who still holds you responsible for someone’s death has roofied you and vanished. YOU DON’T THINK SHE’S TRYING TO FUCK WITH YOU, BRA?” But then again I am paranoid.
So then Bridget does some stuff that if any actress other than Sarah Michelle Gellar had been playing her would have been unacceptable: she chooses not to call the authorities to look for her sister’s body so that she can avoid jail and the Body Chopper, instead of going on the lam, she….assumes her twin’s identity. IMMEDIATELY. Like, zero hesitation – boom, she is Siobhan! She is making out with Horatio Hornblower who is Siobhan’s husband! She is befriending her dead twin’s best friend! She is ending the illicit affair Siobhan was having with said best friend’s husband! She tries to be nice to Siobhan’s step daughter! She just like wedges in there! Into someone’s life! With zero remorse! And only concern for herself! IT WAS STONE COLD.
Also I am glad that I never had a twin sister because if I had, I would’ve constantly been all like “Keep it up bitch – I will murder you and hella take over your life.”
So yeah, we learn the Soap Opera details of Siobhan’s life and we applaud her COMPLETELY RANDOM AND UNEXPLAINED DECISION to stay with Horatio Hornblower (dude is much hotter than bf’s hubs) - even if it means that she is causing enough of an upheaval in Siobhan’s life TO GET HER CAUGHT AAAAAH WHY IS SHE DOING THESE THIIIINGS? I thought she was a sociopath when she decided to take over her sister’s life to save her own, but then she is being all moral and shiz by trying to put things right with Siobhan’s husband and friend?
I mean I got over this after a while because I was so entertained by the giant, movie poster sized-photo portrait of SMG that was featured in the house. That shit was awesome and I want one. Only instead of her I would want it to be of my cat. Clearly.
Things continue to get shitty for Bridget – AS WELL THEY SHOULD! The FBI is looking for because of her, oh you know, assaulting an officer and fleeing and what have you. Bridget is all “I AM MY OWN SISTER” and the FBI guy is all “Hm. Okay. But suspicious!” and, you know, fair play. It was like Dawson’s Creek meets Chinatown. Ha ha ha what does that even mean? I don’t know but it’s awesome and I would watch that – I am watching that! It is Ringer.
Things get shittier still when she learns that Siobhan was…pregnant! Oh snap! And Horatio Hornblower knows too now! And her best friend’s dude! But she don’t even care.
Then her best friend calls her and is like “Meet me at night-time in the dark creaky house from the movie Ghost that I am renovating for you because I know who my husband is sleeping with!” and Bridget….GOES. Like an IDIOT. Stupid, stupid, stripper.
Sure enough, her bestie isn’t there. Instead some masked guy is there and he is trying to kill her and she is all I AM NOT BRIIIIDGET and she shoots him with a gun she had left at the apartment earlier. BUT GUESS WHAT? She checks his pockets (Smart, smart stripper) and discovers that he this guy was sent to killl….SIOBHAN! BUM BUM BUUUUUUUH!
Yeah, poor lil’ Bridget just traded one set of problems for another – that is what this show is about and that could be…okay…but here’s what pushes it to something more and also explains why SMG even signed on.
Moments after Bridget learns her sister was the target of a hit – we cut to PARIS, FRANCE.
SIOBHAN IS ALIVE! SHE IS SITTING BY A MIRROR BEING ALL CLASSY AND GETS A CALL SAYING THAT THERE IS A PROBLEM!
OH SNAP YOU GUYS! SIOBHAN IS ALIVE AND MY FAITH IN THIS SHOW’S PREMISE IS RESTORED!
Because you know what’s much more interesting that a sociopathic stripper addict with a heart of gold? Her mysterious, bitchy, classy and RAGE FILLED TWIN WHO IS HELL BENT ON DESTROYING HER!
Ha ha ha, man – THAT is what I call engaging! Promising even! Let’s go to the scoreboard -
Verdict: Engaging/Promising – no official verdict on pilot episodes, as is my wont.
Show in One Line: Wasp twin seeks vengeance against her stripper twin – now with more Buffy.
What We Love: The twist!
What We Do Not Love: Bridget could be incredibly inconsistent
Good, Good Stripper Moments: 3 – Ends sister’s extra-marital affair, tries to repair marriage to Horatio Hornblower, tries to make amends with Waspy Classy Bitchy Twin.
Bad, Bad Stripper Moments: 4 -Assaults FBI agent, Does not go to authorities when her sister apparently drowns, assumes sister’s identity, wants to kick her step-daughter out for having drugs.